Squash and truffle brandade

Squash and truffle brandade

By
From
The Sunday Night Book
Serves
6
Photographer
Patricia Niven

Strictly speaking, brandade is a Provençal dish of salt cod puréed with garlic, olive oil and sometimes potato, but I have used it in this context because the texture of the end result is similar. We’re so spoilt these days with the wide range of squash and pumpkins available to us. In their many guises, they make such a wonderful autumnal treat and I tend to cook with them as much as I can during their season. They keep brilliantly, too, so can brighten up the long winter months of roots and brassicas. The varieties I really rate are Crown Prince, which can be quite big but keep very well; and Cream of the Crop is a nice little one, as is the gem squash. Another favourite is spaghetti squash, which I think works particularly well in this recipe. Some squashes can be quite watery, so I tend to capture that liquid and reduce it down and add it back to the squash. If you are lucky enough to lay your hands on a truffle, then shave it on top, but good-quality truffle oil does the trick, too. If you’re feeling extra-decadent, you can grate over a little cheese as well – parmesan would be my recommendation.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 small squash, about 680 g
2 teaspoons olive oil
small grating of nutmeg
60g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon truffle oil
3 pitta breads or flatbreads
a few shavings fresh truffle, (optional)
sea salt
black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Season the flesh side liberally with salt and pepper, then grate over a little nutmeg. Put each half onto a large sheet of oiled foil, skin side down, then splash over the rest of the olive oil and a good smattering of water. Wrap up the squash to form two parcels and bake for 50–60 minutes or until totally soft but not brown. Scrape all the flesh out and if it seems rather waterlogged, tip the lot into a sieve set over a saucepan and let the liquid drip through for about half an hour, or until the squash looks dry. Then put the pan over a medium heat and let the liquid simmer and reduce until syrupy
  3. Meanwhile, mash the squash. When the liquid has reduced, add the squash to the pan to warm through. Now gradually beat in the butter, bit by bit, until you have a lovely rich and glossy mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in three-quarters of the truffle oil.
  4. Put the pitta breads or flatbreads under a hot grill to warm through, then cut into bite-sized strips.
  5. Scrape the squash brandade into a warm bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the truffle oil (now is the time for a few shavings of truffle, if you have one tucked away somewhere!), then surround with the strips of bread.
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